31/3/15: Day 5 of the excavation of Lager Wick: evidence of burning!

Paved area around barrack block

Paved area around barrack block

Ceramic bird

Ceramic bird

Schnapps glass

Schnapps glass

Burnt glass

Burnt glass

Today we extended the trench that we took a peek into at the end of yesterday. It revealed what we think was a paved area in front of the barrack block that burned down in April 1944. Whether all barrack blocks had a paved area in front of them, or a pathway linking them, we don’t know. However, Lager Wick was built on a marsh, and such paved areas would have been useful on the boggy ground. As the trench was 3 x 2.5m, it took us a while to excavate but it was worthwhile. We found a few nice objects (a small schnapps / vodka glass and the head of a ceramic bird – see pictures), which made us question whether this barrack block was used by prisoners or guards. As the paved area seemed to go around the corner of what we assume was the burnt barrack block, we dug into the empty space where the block should have been. Joy of joy, we found some really clear evidence of a burning event. This included a clear layer of charcoal and lots of burnt glass, as well as some burnt window catches and door hinges. We were very pleased to have this confirmation of what is known from the archaeological record.

Tomorrow is our last day of digging, so the question is: do we open a couple of smaller test pits to check for other paved areas in front of barrack huts? I think we must. We also have another day ahead of us covering our trenches and the latrine block with soil. But it is possible that there will be an 11th hour reprieve, as word reached us via our environmental officer, Piers Sangan, that it is possible that the island’s planning authority may want to keep the latrine block uncovered as a historic site within an SSI (Site of Special Interest). We shall see! We also had a visit today from Channel TV and the BBC TV cameras, so I will post links to these reports online. I’m attaching some images from today and am always happy to have feedback on interpretation!

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About Gilly Carr

I am a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge's Institute of Continuing Education. I work in the field of conflict archaeology and POW archaeology, and my fieldwork is based in the Channel Islands.

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